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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird seeks to focus upon the hypocrisy of the ‘American Dream’. Discuss. The American dream can be defined as a national ethos which encourages freedom for all individuals regardless of their race, religion, colour or socioeconomic status. Through the theory of American Exceptionalism and the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal”, the American Dream presents itself as a system of equal opportunity and prosperity for all citizens. Author, Harper Lee, effectively draws attention to the hypocrisy of the American Dream in her enchanting novel “To Kill A Mockingbird”.

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Texts such as the front page of Malcolm X’s novel “By any means necessary” and Tupac’s song “White Man’s World” also reinforce the hypocrisy and propaganda behind such flawed concept. In each medium the black man is deemed to be inferior to the white, as the writers portray the discrimination and segregation faced by the coloured citizens. Harper Lee’s aggressive tone explores the paradox of the American Dream in “To Kill A Mockingbird”. The composer highlights the discrimination faced by blacks in the South by enforcing legalised racism throughout her novel.

Lee achieves this by demonstrating how racism crept its way into the legal system, consequently causing corruption. “In our court, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always win”, the tone which is used suggests the frustration and anger Atticus holds towards the damaged nature of life within that period. The author has successfully emphasised the courts as being bias, reflecting upon the poor state of Justice in America. Overall, although America publicised their country as providing equal opportunity for all, “the white man always wins” was proven to be legally correct in the case of Tom Robinson.

In comparison to Lee’s novel “To kill a mockingbird”, the front cover of Malcolm X’s novel “By any means necessary” also highlights the hypocrisy of the American Dream. In the image, the composer uses symbolism to evoke the idea that this man, along with his people, will take up arms if required to get their point across. From the audiences’ perspective, Malcolm and his weapon are the main focus of the photograph since they’re positioned in the centre of the page. This image aims to communicate the ideology that equality needs to be fought for, however the use of weaponry suggests violence is the solution.

Whilst the symbolic use of weaponry enhances the meaning of “by any means necessary”, the attire worn by Malcolm embodies how he’s not only fighting with guns, but his fighting with his knowledge and beliefs. In summary of this, the front cover of the novel effectively explores the hypocrisy of the American Dream as it visually illustrates the extremes black people would take in order to be equally recognised. Lee’s didactic way of writing in “To Kill A Mockingbird” highlights the biblical segregation between the black and white community, hence capturing the facade of the American dream.

Through the effective use of dialogue, Lee creates a superficial boundary between religious beliefs. “I wants to know why you bringin’ white chillun to nigger church” Lula, a regular attendee of the congregation, condemns Calpurnias’ idea of bringing the white children to the “coloured” church. By employing dialogue of a random community member in contrast to a main character, the composer evokes the idea that the “coloured” church is as a sanctuary for all the black people in Alabama.

The church acts as a liberator since it allows the black citizens to feel protected from the racially prejudiced surroundings outside, ironically acting against the philosophy of the American Dream. American rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur draws attention to the discrepancy of the American Dream in his song “White Man’s World”. Tupac’s first person approach, in conjunction with the constant use of repetition emphasizes his inner emotions and thoughts towards the American life.

Whether a man or a girl, we’re still struggling in this White man’s world” by repeating “White man’s world” in the title and through the song, the composer creates an emotion which connects the entertainer and audience to a common issue. Since blacks were being oppressed by whites at the time of the songs release, the approach taken by Tupac before producing such controversial text, was clearly deliberate. The writer effectively captured the hypocrisy of the American Dream since he focused on the overall view of how American life was personally perceived by him, and his people.

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